N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 70


STATE OF NEW JERSEY CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION OF 1947
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
Wednesday, June 25, 1947 (Morning session)

Another example. Mr. Smith starts out to buy a home from a Mr. Jones, and when the time comes to perform the contract, Mr. Jones refuses. This time Mr. Smith starts in the Court of Chancery and asks for specific performance of the contract. The Court of Chancery finds the contract perfectly legal and valid, but lacking in mutuality, and denies relief. Mr. Smith then goes back to the law court and retries the same case - the same witnesses, the same documents - before he gets his verdict for damages. Here, again, there would have been one set of pleadings in the federal court, or in the New York Supreme Court, or in the courts of most of the states in this country and in England.

Another familiar example. Mrs. Smith brings an action in the law court against an insurance company to recover on a life insurance policy on her husband's life. The insurance company files a bill in the Court of Chancery to cancel the policy on the ground that Mr. Smith, however unintentionally, misstated facts when he applied for insurance. Now, the Court of Chancery finds that fraud, at least the intentional misrepresentation type, is a perfect defense in the law court and decides that the parties had better go back and try the case there first. The parties do that, and the jury's verdict is in favor of Mrs. Smith. With that completed, the insurance company now goes back to the Court of Chancery where the case is tried all over - the same case, the same witnesses - only this time the Court of Chancery finds there was equitable fraud. And now, at long last, after two trials, the policy is cancelled, and Mrs. Smith is out of court. While the result would certainly have been the same in the federal court or in any unified court structure, there would have been one trial, one hearing, one final decision.

For a concluding illustration, a group of neighbors are disturbed by noise, soot, or smoke from a factory erected in their neighborhood. They go to the Court of Chancery for an injunction, and their case is tried and the injunction awarded. In the meantime, they have sustained pecuniary damages. Now, before collecting these damages, they must go to the law court and try the case all over again. Here again, almost everywhere else in the country there would have been one trial, which would have resulted both in an award for damages and an injunction.

Despite all these apparent advantages of a totally merged, simplified and unified court structure, you would nevertheless gather from what Mr. Conford has said that the advantages of an independent Court of Chancery, or some form of permanent Chancery institution, would very strongly recommend itself to the Committee. The first argument would be that there are very superior advantages to be had from creating a specialized body of judges who will deal with the same material, become very familiar with it and give quick and


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